Head over to The Montcalm Hotel to get fed ever so well – The Chiswell Street Dining Rooms EC1
‘Amaaaziinng’ I shrieked when I found out I was staying at the 5 star Montcalm hotel in Barbican. One of the first things I did was arrange the lunch plans for the day. Now, in my opinion Barbican is a bit of a culinary wasteland so I knew I’d have to go a bit further out to find a good restaurant. It was short notice so a lot of places were fully booked then it occurred to me … What was I thinking? I’m staying at the Montcalm Hotel, obviously we had to go to the Chiswell Street Dining Rooms situated inside.
The Chiswell Street Dining Room is part of the same group which run famous haunts such as The Botanist on Sloane Square and The Cadogan Arms on Kings Road. They serve breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, the whole shebang.
We were escorted to the bar after checking in to wait for our lunch table.
It was Tuesday, 1.30pm and the place was rammed packed full of punters in business attire and women who do lunch. It had a very vibrant feel with positive vibes and the type of volume I personally like at a lunch (but not a dinner). Some may say too loud, I say crank it up. I was probably the youngest person there but that never produces any complaints from me, I quite like that and it is what I’m used to.
The place was immaculately presented with old school lamps at the front, flowers and beautiful green leather seating occupying the interior. Green is a calming colour so that contrasted to the buzz, buzz, lively buzz of the atmosphere.
We were introduced to our waiter and I adored him, he was hilarious and we spent a lot of the time bantering. His recommendations and advice were very honest yet he always remained professional despite the banter. He was just being himself; unlike a lot of the robot waiters you sometimes come across who are briefed on exactly what to say.
After having 2-3 glasses of wine, we finally decided to order. I went for the ‘Foie gras, chicken liver and truffle parfait, quince chutney, brioche’ £9 and the ‘12 hour slow braised shoulder of Welsh lamb, smoked bacon, creamed Brussels sprouts and chestnuts, tender stem broccoli, braising juices’ £23. My friend chose the ‘Baked Dorset crab and creamed leek gratin’ £11.50 followed by the ‘Yorkshire venison hot pot, Savoy cabbage’ £17.50. We shared their signature starter the ‘Herefordshire snail and smoked bacon pie, Guinness and mushroom cream sauce’ £9.50
This dish is simply to die for. I can really see why it is one of their infamous starters. Please note, if the thought of eating snails repulses you, try this and you may be converted. The snails are not too in your face like the ones you typically find as a French starter. Who knew that smoky, crispy bacon and tender, juicy snails would compliment eachother so well? Even more so, who knew that snails would appear on a classic British menu? It was a big experimental step and in my opinion a great success.
The pastry rubbed me the right way and I’m not usually a pastry or pie kind of gal.
The foie gras came beautifully presented encircled by rings of chutney and tasted fantastic, it was so soft, almost margarine like, rich in taste and went excellently with the sweet brioche as foie gras should do.
The crab gratin was also well presented. I didn’t get to have a taste but received good enough feedback.
The circular shape of the lamb and how it was wrapped with bacon was pleasing to the eye. It wasn’t the most memorable lamb I’ve had but it did meet my expectations. Very juicy and delicate.
My friend had the venison hotpot and I was jealous when I was given a taste. (Sorry, this photo does not give it justice). I was actually going to choose that myself before going for the lamb. It was scrumptious and delightful and just reminded me of being in the countryside. I batted my eyelashes and made him swap with me. Victory.
An appetising, long boozy lunch which revived my taste buds, filled my stomach, brightened my already good mood and made me want to come back for some more. It was a good start to the day and I was really glad that they did Room Service for those in between snacks.
One word…. GO!
Chiswell Street Dining Rooms
56 Chiswell Street